Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kevin Shoebridge, COO of Team Camper, updates on his team

It was a very interesting two days in Alicante and I had the chance to meet a great number of stakeholders (organization, teams, stopovers, sponsors and partners) in the Volvo Ocean Race and talk about the racing, commercial and marketing aspects of the premiere round-the-world race. These interviews will be published in several installments over the next few days.

The first interview is actually a short update Kevin Shoebridge, COO of Team Camper, gave me on the Emirates Team NZ project, bankrolled by Spanish footwear company Camper. According to Shoebridge the build and design program are well advanced and the hull and deck of the new VO70 yachts are now complete. The launch is scheduled for mid-April while shorter term, the crew will be announced on December 15th.

Valencia Sailing: Can you give us an update on the Camper Volvo Ocean Race campaign?
Kevin Shoebridge: We are well advanced with our design and build program in Auckland. In fact as of last week we have a completed hull and a completed deck. The build is done at Cookson Boats which built all our boats. They built the TP52 and about 8 America's Cup yachts. We are really happy with how it's going, we are right on schedule, and the launch should take place around mid-April. Don't forget that the VO70's are very complicated yachts and there is a huge amount of work required on the design front to keep up with the build. That's where are pretty much focused on right now, to make sure Cookson have enough information so that the build is carried out on schedule.

Valencia Sailing: Is building a VO70 much more complicated than building an ACC Version 5 yacht?
Kevin Shoebridge: Absolutely. There's nearly twice as many hours of construction than an ACC boat. They are very complex yachts.

Valencia Sailing: What schedule does the team have after the launch next April? Will you come to Spain?
Kevin Shoebridge: We are still deciding exactly how that will play out. Our sea trials and the initial testing period will obviously take place in Auckland. We are still debating on a few things such as the Fastnet Race and that would slightly alter our program, leading into the assembly period in Alicante. We are still not decided on the exact schedule and it will also depend to some extent on what the other teams do. The racing aspects are important, just as the testing.

Valencia Sailing: You have announced Chris Nicholson as the skipper, Adam Minoprio and Chuny Bermudez. When will you announce the rest of the crew?
Kevin Shoebridge: We will make an official announcement on December 15th. All the positions are filled on the sailing team and the shore team and the crew consists of New Zealanders and a few Australians, with the exception of Chuny Bermudez, of course. There will be no other Spanish sailors in the crew.

Valencia Sailing: For you personally does this job represent a big challenge?
Kevin Shoebridge: It does, at the moment. I have more responsibilities now than back in 2007 in Valencia. Over the last few years, the team has diversified a lot and that was a definite plan that we wanted to get involved with more sailing, with more types of sailing. That's why we got involved with the TP52's, that's why we helped develop the Louis Vuitton regatta idea and now the Volvo Ocean Race. We are a sailing as opposed to just an America's Cup team.

Valencia Sailing: Won't that distract you from your ultimate goal, which is winning the America's Cup?
Kevin Shoebridge: Not at all, we actually think the opposite. We think it helps achieving that goal. Having a team that is motivated and involved in different aspects of the sport is a really good thing. Even if I'm not working full time on the Cup we have a lot of very good people taking care of many different areas. We rely on these people to make sure we don't get overloaded in any certain area.

Valencia Sailing: Will you be back in the America's Cup part of the team once the Volvo Ocean Race is over?
Kevin Shoebridge: Absolutely. In fact, I'll be in Dubai on Sunday morning.

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